Hi,
I’m finishing a revision of a paper that needs to go to the editor on Monday. One of the reviewers wrote
In Section 3.5.2, line 222, the authors use the expression “finite element cell”, which I think is confusing to the readers, because “cell” belongs to finite volume method. Unless, the author is using a hybrid finiteelement finitevolume method, which in that case, the authors should elaborate more on that.
I have written a rather lengthy response, which appears below.
Since my response is long, I’ll ask my questions first. Can someone, perhaps one of the authors of the GJI papers [3] and [5] below, comment on what I’ve written. Also,

Are there references in the general FEM literature in which “cell” and “element” are used in the same manner as in the ASPECT literature and, if so, would you please give me a pointer to two or three of them?

Is what I have written in italics towards the end (before I reference [2] Brenner and Scott) correct or even partially correct?

Should I simply end my response after my first paragraph; the one that has as part of it’s last sentence:
i.e., we want to remain consistent with the literature that the community of ASPECT users, or potential users, typically read.
 Suggestions? I just want the reviewer to accept the paper as soon as they see it. I don’t want to insult them or offend them.
The reason we use the word “cell” is that in the peer reviewed articles that describe ASPECT in detail [3, 5] as well as in the ASPECT manual [1] the word “cell” is used to describe a single component of the computational grid; i.e., a cell. In particular, at the time and date this is being written, the version of the
which is updated once a day as part of the continual development of ASPECT has 313 occurrences of the word “cell”. This is our principal reason for referring to these objects (finite element “cells”) as “cells”; i.e., we want to remain consistent with the literature that the community of ASPECT users, or potential users, typically read.
We are not sure what word the reviewer would like us to use instead of “cell”. We
have found instances of lecture notes on the web; for example,
where the author uses the word “element” to refer to what we call a cell; e.g., in the second sentence on page 124. We have little doubt that the word“element” is given this meaning in both books and peer reviewed articles on the FEM.
Nevertheless, in the discussion in Section 3.2.2 in the peer reviewed journal article [5] that describes the initial implementation of ASPECT in detail and, more specifically, starting at the bottom of page 16 and in the footnote numbered ‘2’ at the bottom of page 17 the word “element” is used in the following manner.
“ 2 Note, however, that the eight pressure nodes per cell in 3D for the Q_1 element are shared between all cells adjacent to each vertex, whereas the three pressure nodes per cell for the P_{−1} element are uniquely associated
with each cell. …” [all italics are mine]
Similar uses of the word ‘element’ may be found in the second, peer reviewed article [3] from 2017 describing the current version of ASPECT, including changes from the original version, additional capabilities, etc.
As an aside, we note that there may be no universally accepted definition of what the word “element” in Finite Element Method means.
For example, in the mathematics community, in which many of us work, the definition of element that is due to Professor Philippe G. Ciarlet, is (loosely) as follows; e.g., see [2].
The formal definition is presented as a triple:
i. K: A “nice enough” closed subset of R^n ,
ii. P: A finite dimensional function space on K,
iii. N: “nodes”, a basis for the dual space P^∗
The “nodal basis” is then defined as the function φ ∈ P such that n_i (φ j ) = δ_ij. Nodes are often pointwise evaluation; i.e., n_i (φ) = φ(x_i ) for some point x_i ∈ K, but much more general n_i are possible.
[1] Bangerth, W., Dannberg, J., Gassmöller, R., Heister, T., and et al. ASPECT: Advanced Solver for Problems in Earth’s ConvecTion User Manual. Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics, 2018.
[2] Brenner, S. C., and Scott, R. The Mathematical Theory of Finite Element Methods, Third ed. No. 15 in Texts in Applied Mathematics. SpringerVerlag, New York, 2008.
[3] Heister, T., Dannberg, J., Gassmöller, R., and Bangerth, W. High accuracy mantle convection simulation through modern numerical methods. II: Realistic models and problems. Geophys. J. Int. 210, 2 (2017), 833–851.
[5] Kronbichler, M., Timo Heister, and Wolfgang Bangerth. High accuracy mantle convection simulation through modern numerical methods. Geophys. J. Int. 191, 1 (2012), 12–29.